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December 5, 2017

Working as a Rockette: Rare and Amazing Behind the Scenes Photos Capture Everyday Life of Famous Dancers in 1964

The December 11, 1964, issue of LIFE magazine featured an article titled The Rockettes Go On and On: World's Most Famous Kick, with illustrated with photographs taken by Arthur Rickerry, they show how the dancers themselves prepped for four shows a day, seven days a week, on one of the most famous stages in the world. The piece also focused on five young dancers who, out of the many, many hopefuls who auditioned in 1964, were talented and driven enough to make the grade:
Little girls who grow up to be Rockettes are born and raised in places like Milford, Mass., and Niles, Ohio, and Erie, Pa., and they get thrust into dancing classes by their mamas when they are scarcely more than toddlers. As they grow older they hear about the great dance spectacle at the Radio City Music Hall and start to wonder if... 
The more enterprising ones write letters asking how one goes about becoming a Rockette. They get polite form replies listing the requirements: they must be high school graduates, between 5-feet 5-inches and 5-feet 8-inches tall, have good figures and be excellent performers in tap, ballet, modern jazz dance and high kicks. 
Each more frightened than the other, they decided to join forces in a city that turned to be even more perilous than they had imagined. They paid $300 a month for a shabby two-room apartment in a run-down hotel — and nobody told them they were being overcharged. They were snapped at by waitresses and cabbies and pushed and shoved about in the subway. But four times a day they changed into spangles and feathers and make-up and danced before 6,200 patrons who had paid to see them.
All these years later, at least that part of the story remains unchanged. After all the hard work and hard knocks and sore muscles and self-doubts, the Rockettes head out on stage and there — eagerly waiting, happily anticipating — are thousands of men, women and (of course) children who have come from near and far to see them.



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